She Has a Story

This morning, my brother Reed and his wife Lee Ann boarded a plane that would take them to the other side of the world, to the place where their third daughter waits for them.

She's in Ethiopia.  She's almost 11 months old.  She has giant brown eyes and heart-shaped lips, and she has (the orphanage workers have said) a bright and curious personality.  And it makes me smile when I think of how unaware she is, at this very moment, how much she is loved.  She has no idea how many hours her momma has stared at her photograph, hoping the dimply hands means she has enough to eat.  She doesn't know about the countless of hours of research her daddy has done, finding a way to bring her home.  She's never met the two big sisters who have prayed for her every night.  She doesn't know the grandmother who wears her name on a chain, or the rowdy cousins who are already planning affectionate nicknames.  She has no idea her auntie Shannon is prowling around like a crazy woman, anxiously checking for the text message:  We have her.

She doesn't know all of this; she simply sits happily in her crib in Addis Abada, lovingly cared for by orphanage workers who saw, from the start, an undeniable sparkle in her.  When she was abandoned as a newborn, they named her Tarikwa Teka.  It's Amharic for "she has a story that He has replaced".

Needless to say, Reed and Lee Ann are keeping that name.  It's much too beautiful–and true–to change. 

She has a story.  And unbeknownst to little Tarik, chapter two begins in only three days, when her parents come to get her.  May I ask, if the thought crosses your mind, that you'd pray for my brother and his wife, that their travel would be safe, and that Tarik will be able to adapt to her new family easily?  Will you pray for those of us back at home that we will all have the wisdom to help Reed, Lee Ann and Tarik in this transition, and that my two little nieces here at home will feel peaceful while their parents are away?  I'd appreciate it so much, and I know they would too.

By the way, Reed and Lee Ann have a six-year-old Compassion child in Ethiopia, and they'll get to meet her while they're there.  Updates to come!

Thanks for your prayers.

138 thoughts on “She Has a Story

  1. Angie says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this!
    Praying for them now and will pray as the Lord brings them to mind (and I’ve asked Him to bring them to mind often.)

  2. Gabby says:

    Wow, that story just made me cry.
    God is so awesome in the way he weaves us together.
    I will pray right now for their safety and that precious little girl with the gift of a name that is amazing.

  3. pam @ without fear says:

    Oh Shannon! I feel privileged to pray for Reed, Lee Ann, and little Tarik. She sounds absolutely precious, and I can’t wait to see her if they are willing to post photos at some point.
    I am praying right now for all the details to be uncomplicated and for God to just shower them with His presence in every moment of this process. May their time together in Ethiopia with their little sweetie be full of tender memories that they will hold close to their hearts forever.
    My heart is full for them and my eyes full of tears as I think of all she will now have as a member of your sweet family. Joy unspeakable. Thanks again for sharing and for allowing me to peek into what God is doing in y’all’s lives. It is truly an honor to follow along.

  4. mkw says:

    β€œI know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
    We are a family of adoption. We are also a family of RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder – emotional challenges stemmed from pre-adoption neglect and trauma.) Yet, with all that we go through, we would do it all again. And, we tear up and have the utmost respect and support for families who add to their world and God’s eternal heavenly world by bringing His children into their homes and into His fold of faith. Blessings, eternal and heavenly, to all of you.

  5. Holli T. says:

    I want to change my name to that. That is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long time.
    I will certainly be praying and look forward to the updates.
    Holli T.

  6. Kelly Bryan says:

    Praying for the safe arrival of your family to get these sweet baby and that all goes well! I am sure you can’t wait to get your hands on her and give her lots of loves!
    We are praying for you and all your family!
    Kelly Bryan

  7. Kelly says:

    How wonderful for your brother and his wife!
    James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

  8. Lori Anne says:

    It will be a pleasure to pray for them. Thank you for sharing this. I do hope that one day you will post a picture of this beautiful child with her forever family.

  9. Kim says:

    OH how wonderful. This is the second family this week that has gone to a 3rd world country to adopt. I love it and prayers are going out for them

  10. We are THAT family says:

    Just her name made me cry.
    My twin sister is waiting on her referral any day to meet her third child, a girl, also from Ethiopia.
    Every time I think of my new niece, I pray. I will pray for yours too.

  11. Kate says:

    I started crying after reading the first few sentences of this post. We are waiting for our turn to go pick up our baby boy who is waiting for us in Ethiopia!
    And her name…just beautiful!
    Praying for them.

  12. Jeannette says:

    My husband and I are adopting a child from Ethiopia too! I get so excited to hear about other people getting to bring home their children. Blessings on the family and what a beautiful name.

  13. Tasha says:

    Wow I’m sitting here sobbing!
    How wonderful! How precious! How exciting!
    Thank you for sharing this. They will most definitely be in my prayers! =)

  14. Tiffany says:

    How absolutely wonderful! My husband and I are devoting our lives to adoption (we are in the process now! Oh the paperwork!!!) so hearing stories like this fill my heart with joy. God bless your family and most especially the new addition.

  15. Jean says:

    How exciting – they will get to meet their Compassion child AND bring home their new daughter in the asme trip – think it was ‘coincidence’? I think not… Will be anxiously awaiting more news – thanks for sharing the great story!

  16. Larissa says:

    Awesome! I have some good friends who adopted a little girl from Addis Ababa at a very young age. It is really special to be a part of the process and welcoming that child into a new family. And my friend’s little girl had a special name too, which meant “you are mine”. They kept that as well. Ethiopians are good at naming, I guess!
    Definitely praying with joy!

  17. Kara @ Me-Moddy says:

    Oh that name! What power in that name she has been given. Absolutely beautiful. As a two-time adoptive momma – I will be praying today and am always thrilled and excited to hear another adoption story where God takes individual people and forms their lives and weaves them together into a beautiful family in an instant. Congrats to your brother and SIL. How exciting for your whole family!

  18. Upstatemomof3 says:

    That is so beautiful! We are also in process to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. We do not even have a referral yet, but I still look forward to when I can ask for prayers for our trip.
    My son prays for his new brother or sister every night too. Isn’t it awesome to see the excitement in their eyes as they wait? Your brother’s family is in my prayers.
    Congratulations to all of you on the new addition. She will brighten your lives in ways you never imagined, I am sure.

  19. Angela says:

    We too are a family that has 3 children all of ours adopted from Haiti. We have been right where they are with a (then) 3.5yo, 15mo, and 6 mo. No one said it would be easy…and it will make you more aware of race issues in this country that you couldnt see before…but it is well worth it…they will be blessed beyond measure!

  20. elise says:

    oh awesome! i grew up in addis (as a dutch girl), my parents live there and so does my (dutch) sister who has the ethiopian name Desta, which means Joy. Always lovely reading about people going there, makes me feel awefully homesick….

  21. Emily says:

    Hurray!! Thanks for sharing their story – we are also adopting from Ethiopia (a little 12-month-old boy) and are hoping to travel in about two months. Our court date is one month away. We also have a compassion child in Ethiopia who we’re planning to visit while we’re there! Glad to hear they have such a supportive family in this journey. I will pray for them!

  22. Tater Mama says:

    My good friends returned to Texas in November from Ethiopia with their daughter, Ella Yanit, who was 13 months old. She is precious! They had planned to name her Ella Grace, but then found that Yanit means “The Lord is gracious.” Needless to say, they’re keeping Yanit as her middle name.
    Their story is one that will touch your heart, and if you’re interested, David keeps a blog at
    I’m going to email your blog to David. I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear from him, even if it’s just to say, “Congratulations!”
    I am happy for everyone involved! What a blessed day!

  23. VV says:

    YEA! I’m so happy that they’ve found their daughter πŸ™‚ More than one person in my family has adopted a child. Odds are that I will someday as well. It’s a huge undertaking, challenging, amazing and brings more blessing then one could ever imagine.
    Congrats to your family…and without a doubt she’ll know how much she is loved soon enough.

  24. Superchikk says:

    We have friends who adopted from that same city this past summer. They couldn’t say enough about the ophanage and care-givers, and how much they loved each child. As much as they were happy to bring their boy home, they were equally as sad to see him leave the women who had cared for him so lovingly.
    We have another set of friends who are waiting on their immigration papers to adopt from Ethiopia. It seems to be a popular place right now. God is doing amazing things, bringing those babies home to Christian families.

  25. Runningamuck says:

    I got full-body goosebumps when I read her name… seriously, they keep refreshing everytime I think about it. What an amazing name. And how true of all of us! But especially sweet and true of her. I will be praying for a smooth pick up for your SIL and brother and safe travel

  26. Alison says:

    I too am going to be an auntie to a little one from Ethiopia and I can’t wait for the day that I get to see his sweet little face in person. Praying for your family.

  27. Jewel says:

    You story is the light of my day. God bless your family and little Tarik. She is a very lucky little girl. I am excited for her to come into a loving family. It makes me smile to think how much her life is about to change.

  28. Misty says:

    Your entire post was beautiful, but Tarik’s name alone was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Will my name have a meaning like that to God one day?…oh, I can pray it does. And I will certainly pray for your entire family – how exciting! I have always had a burden on my heart for adoption, however my husband has never felt the same way. After years of (secondary) infertility, my burden seems so much heavier. Stories like this make me grateful for the desires that God places in our hearts and I know that if He means for us to adopt, he’ll work out all the details. He is a good God and is ever-faithful. 2 Samuel 22:33 “God is my strength and power, He will make my path perfect.” Just as He will bless your family with the love of another beautiful child of His. What an awesome God!

  29. Traci Best says:

    We have three adopted children and I can not imagine the trauma of international adoption! A Domestic triple adoption had enough twists and turns as it was! But,…oh I long for a baby! (Our three were 4,5 and 5 when they came to us.) May God bless their journey and keep everyone safe, sound and secure!!!

  30. Aunt Murry says:

    How terribly exciting! What a beautiful name and such a happy beginning of chapter two that could have turned out do differently! I have goose bumps! I love when things like this work out. May she only know love and grace from this point forward!

  31. Kristin says:

    It’s strange how God connects the lives and experiences of complete strangers, as this morning my best friend left with her husband for Ethiopia to pick up their two adopted children! Bethany and Josh, my friends, decided to adopt a sibling group and are bringing home a 6-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. They have blogged about their adoption at and are hoping to update while they are there. (And if not, I will be updating for them.) So, while you are thinking and praying for your brother and sister-in-law, please also offer up prayers for my friends, and I will do the same for you. What a special time.

  32. linda says:

    What a happy occaision! And a beautiful name! Our family leaves in three weeks for China. Our little daughter is waiting for us there! Can’t wait to meet her.

  33. Stretch Mark Mama says:

    I love a beautiful name w/ a beautiful meaning. Long before I had any kids, I ran across a Hebrew girl’s name that means “the Lord has heard me and answered my prayer.” I KNEW that was the name for my someday girl, and yet I had a boy…then another boy… Eventually we decided to adopt a girl who had such a tough start to her life — and we gave her that name we had saved all along. I’m hoping that as she grows older that her name continues to help heal her heart.

  34. Ranelle says:

    I read your story, and tears sprang to my eyes. I remembered staring at a little face with black eyes, waiting for us half- way around the world. The wait seemed absolutely endless. She’s playing with her baby brother now on the living room floor. Isn’t God amazing?

  35. Jenn says:

    I will keep them in my thoughts! We brought home two of our kids from Ethiopia 18 months ago, and it has been wonderful. My daughter was 14 mos old at homecoming, and is the absolute joy of my life. I wish them a smooth and peaceful transition, and a wonderful journey together.

  36. Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers says:

    I’m not sure if I’m just especially hormonal today or if you people (by “you people” I totally mean “my favorite mom bloggers) are just writing especially touching posts today, but you’re killing me. Stop making me cry! πŸ˜‰
    Praying for your family. I can’t wait to hear more of Tarik’s story, written by her loving Father.

  37. Cara Conly says:

    Your dad has been keeping me posted and I am so excited for your entire family! Just hering her name makes tears come to my eyes. What a blessed little girl to be placed in a family that is going to love her so much and teach her about Jesus and give her every opportunity to be the young lady God would have her to be! Praying for all of you and can’t wait to hear that she is home!

  38. Wendy says:

    I couldn’t believe it when I pulled this up today! God’s timing is always so incredible!My dear friend Carole Turner ( her husband Dean are leaving TOMORROW to pick up their precious, 6 yr old son Abel from Ethiopia! They have had a long wait but God has been faithful! We all cannot wait to meet him! We’ll be praying for all the families with a heart for adoption! It’s so amazing!

  39. Carole Turner says:

    We leave tomorrow for Ethiopia to pick up our 6yr old son!!
    I have read your blog before and followed your compassion trip last year. My friend “twittered” me today and said “you have to go read Rocks in my dryer today!”
    God bless the Orphans and ALL the people that reach out to them and care for them from Orphanages, adoption, sponsorship, etc. God is moving for his little ones!
    You can check out our story at
    God bless!!

  40. Dana says:

    Hello. I am an adoptee and growing up we always had a wonderful poem on our fridge.
    Not flesh of my flesh
    Nor bone of my bone,
    But still miraculously my own.
    Never forget for a single minute,
    You grew not under my heart,
    But in it.

  41. Christine says:

    What a wonderful story! Our God is so gracious! I will certainly be praying for Reed and Lee Ann and all three of their beautiful daughters. Thanks for sharing their story and giving us the opportunity to do so.
    Where are my tissues…. πŸ˜‰

  42. Erin says:

    How awesome! As an adoptive mom, I know a little of what they are going through. We adopted our daughter when she was 5 from our state foster care system, but adoption is just such a wonderful family to grow your family. I can’t wait to hear your update!

  43. Marian says:

    Yes, she has a story! It blows my mind to think of the way God moves heaven and earth and people and thoughts and everything to get one little child into the family He has intended for them. God bless them.
    –Mom of an Ethiopian beauty, who also has a wonderful story

  44. Karen says:

    We went to Ethiopia in April of last year to meet our youngest daughter, Amilia. It was a wonderful journey, and it has continued after we came home. We wish all the best to their family!

  45. Lesley says:

    Oh, I am so excited for y’all! We have just started our paperwork to bring home our next baby from Ethiopia. Please keep us updated and I will pray for her, too.

  46. Julie says:

    I love that they are keeping her name. Our 8 year old (home 3 weeks) is named Beza – it means “redemption” and I love it. Wendemagegn – her 9 year old brother – means “I have a brother”…and now he does.
    Even at their age they have no idea of all that went into the process to bring them here and how much we loved them for a year before we ever met them. Someday they will understand.

  47. jody says:

    we are awaiting our court/travel dates for our little girl from ethiopia as well. she is currently 8 weeks old and we will hopefuly travel around the end of march. it is our 4th girl so i can imagine how they must be feeling-i will pray for them!

  48. Deanne Groves says:

    You have the most heartfelt, beautiful and wonderful BLOG I have ever encountered. It is such a joy everyday to now read your thoughts. Thanks so much for bringing a bright smile into my world!

  49. Cheri says:

    Oh yes, I will pray. I know she’ll cross my mind. I know what it’s like to be the crazed aunt waiting on the other side. Well, I only had to wait for my sisters-in-law to deliver their babies, but I was still crazed!!!

  50. EmahS says:

    Here in Israel there are many (now) Israelis who have come from Addis Ababa….there were lost tribes of ancient Jews found there back in the 80’s. I must say, the Ethiopians are BEAUTIFUL people, inside and out!!! We always say that they look like Egyptian Princes and Princesses!!!
    May this child bring nothing but happiness to their lives and may her coming days recognize the love she is being given!!!

  51. Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience says:

    I cry.
    And a little girl on the other side of the world waits.
    And a whole family is about multiply their love exponentially.
    (I’m thinking Tarik will love her new auntie… she too works with words, shapes stories into beautiful things.)
    Counting it a privilege to pray with you, anxiously awaiting the next page of this story…. thanking you for stretching our hearts too, Shannon…

  52. lisa says:

    Wonderful! Having gone abroad (Ukraine) to adopt my two, and having seen, thru 2 years of life in Malawi, just how devastating and dangerous life is for African orphans, I am so happy for this little child!

  53. Carrie@Blessed Chaos says:

    God has a plan for all of us and sometimes our paths are filled with heartache and hardships only to be replaced with opportunity and incredible love. The meaning of her name is perfect and I pray that she will always treasure how truly significant it is.
    Blessings to you and all in your family!

  54. Donnetta says:

    What a precious treasure God is placing into your family! Tears came to my eyes as I read this post!!
    You can count on my prayers here from the Pac NW as this little one is brought home.

  55. missy @ its almost naptime says:

    Oh, YES. Yes, yes, yes. It is an honor for me to be part of this story via my prayers (she said all choked up.)
    Our best friends are heading to China in March to pick up Rosemary, a 6 year old little girl with scoliosis. Same story – we have prayed for that child for years now. We thought she would be a baby, but God had other plans. And I can’t WAIT to see her.

  56. Donja says:

    Adoption is such a blessing, a true gift from our Heavenly Father! How very exciting for them to very soon receive their precious gift, a beautiful little girl! Many blessing’s to them and the rest of the family, God is so good!

  57. Renee says:

    What a wonderful post. I have thought about it over and over again since I read it. I will be happy to pray for them. Please let us know how everything goes. Adoption is a wonderful thing! It has blessed my life. Wish them well for me.

  58. Cindy says:

    Been there and done that–international adoption, that is. I have two beautiful children from India. Because of financial strain, I was unable to go, but my husband traveled alone, once in 2004 and once in 2008 to pick my babies up.
    There is nothing like the joy of having that child in your arms for the first time!
    And God works miracle after miracle, these children “know” that you are their mama and daddy. They trust you right away and it’s just amazing.
    Praying for your family and for a smooth transition!!
    Love to Tarik, especially.

  59. Sarah Eliza says:

    Such a beautiful name! Adoption is such a amazingly concrete picture of the process of redemption — it never fails to awe me. I’ll definitely be praying for little Tarikwa, and her new parents. πŸ™‚

  60. kiy says:

    I don’t often leave a comment here (yes, I am a lurker!) but wanted to say thank you for sharing this. This little gal will be so blessed in your family. Adoption has touched us also, with our darling little gal from China. It’s not always an easy road, adoption, for all concerned but it does bring a family together.
    Cheers, Kiy

  61. Amy says:

    It was fun reading your story and knowing that little girl has a whole extended family waiting to love on her. We are waiting on our 3rd child from Ethiopia and hope to have him home by April. God is good.

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